Oshosheni Hiveluah is a budding young Namibian female scriptwriter and film director. She has managed to dominate the Namibian film industry over the last 12-years and is the scriptwriter and director behind some of the most celebrated short films on the local cinema circuit, with a string of accolades to her name.
Her feature film, ‘Dances of Red’, was selected for the Durban FilmMart in 2014.
Her short films include ‘Cries at Night’, ‘100 Bucks’, ‘Tulila’s Fate’, and ‘Tjitji the Himba Girl’. Oshosheni is currently working on her second feature film and developing several other film ideas in collaboration with writers from the region.
Oshosheni is also the creative director at Digital Afros and co-manages an NGO called Emoona Cultural Foundation that deals with the preservation of culture and heritage through the arts.
New Era Weekend asked Oshosheni to spare a few minutes out of her busy schedule to chat about her journey that started from humble beginnings in 2004, immediately after she returned to Namibia from her studies in South Africa, specialising in multimedia design and production.
“At that time, I did not have role models, since all the filmmaker only came from overseas. But at some point I looked up to some of the filmmakers, such as the late Paul van Schalkwyk, who was founder and chairman of One Africa Television,” Oshosheni reminisces.
‘Tjitji, the Himba Girl’ – released in 2014 – was Oshosheni’s fourth film about a bright young rural Himba girl torn between her parent’s cultural values and expectations and her personal desire to embrace the opportunities life has to offer and maybe, even fulfil her dream of becoming a talk show host.
The film won Best Film and Cinematography at the National Theatre and Awards in 2014 and was selected as one of the best current Namibian short films by young and emerging Namibian filmmakers for a special screening in Berlin, Germany last year.
“I have received so many awards, for which I truly feel blessed. To be recognised for something you enjoy and that you love makes it even more special,” says Oshosheni.
The awards include the 2005 Audience Choice Awards at the now defunct Wild Cinema Film Festival. The ‘Cries at Night’ received the Best Male Actor award at the National Theatre and Film Awards in 2010 for the role played by actor Panduleni Hailundu.
‘Cries at Night’ also got selected to be part of the L’atitude-Quest for the Good Life series sponsored by the Goethe Institut Johannesburg in collaboration with Art in Africa and produced by Media Logistics Namibia.
The ‘100 Bucks’ of 2012 won the 2012 Audience Choice Awards at the Namibia Theatre and Film Awards.
“I was also much chuffed to have my other feature film, ‘Dances of Red’, selected for the Durban FilmMart in 2014.
It’s been a long process to get the film funded, but we have learned to be patient. It sometimes takes up to 10 to 15 years to get a project made,” she says, while urging the government to support the film industry in every way.
The Durban FilmMart is a joint programme of the Durban Film Office and the Durban International Film Festival and takes place in conjunction with Durban International Film Festival.
Durban FilmMart Finance Forum provides selected African filmmakers with the opportunity to pitch film projects to leading financiers. Durban FilmMart also facilitates networking opportunities for African and international filmmakers to form alliances for future.
Besides her collections of awards Oshosheni says she is thankful that her work granted her the opportunity to travel the world attending film festivals and meeting with other filmmakers to share ideas and skills.
She describes her interest in filmmaking as one that “focuses on different themes, but more on social issues and gender-based violence and conflict of traditional and modern cultures.”
She is also an advocate of change and believes that a film crew should have consideration of how to improve the lives of people in a community within which the film is being shot.
“I truly believe that as a film crew that comes into a certain area we need to be able to add value where we can. How can we empower the people, especially when you are shooting in rural and marginalised communities?”
Oshosheni says she has started working on her second feature film entitled ‘Under the Sky’, as well as developing several other film ideas in collaboration with African writers from the regions.
“On this project, people are welcome to contribute towards the cause and help us finish the film, as it has been thus far entirely self funded through the generous support and financial contributions of family and friends,” she says of her new project.
Oshosheni once revealed – to a Pan African women’s magazine – that her interest in filmmaking was piqued at an early age while living in exile in East Germany. Now in her early 30’s Oshosheni was born in exile in Angola, but spent most of her childhood in East Germany, the former GDR.
It was in East Germany that she had her first “cinematic experience”, which she has described as “so magical and enchanting.” The film was ‘Neverending Story’.
Her passion for African cinema was cultivated when as a teenager she watched ‘Sarraounia’, shot in Burkina Faso. “It changed my outlook and perception on African cinema,” Oshosheni said.
It was seemingly that fiery passion that drove her to take up a job to gain experience in casting, production and research. The previous year, 2004, she had just directed her first short film ‘Tulila’s Fate’, which was initially part of a media art technology workshop.
After five years of being employed Oshosheni figured she has gained enough experience. So, she quit to become a freelance filmmaker, focusing entirely on directing and writing. She soon opened a casting agency, called Shooting Stars Casting Agency.
This year Oshosheni was chosen to be part of the US Department of State’s premier professional exchange programme, the International Visitors’ Leadership Programme.
She would be visiting five cities in the USA for three weeks and during that period she will get to mingle with people from around the world who work in the same field and thus get exposed to new ideas, techniques and technologies on the market.